Canada Post to tailor services to Northern, Indigenous community needs
New strategy aims to tackle limited mail service, high costs, low wages
New post offices, more Indigenous staff and better access to the e-commerce economy are among commitments Canada Post is making in its new Indigenous and northern reconciliation strategy.
The strategy, announced Nov. 17, is Canada Post’s response to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation that calls on corporations to include in their policies elements like ensuring Indigenous peoples have equitable access to jobs and can sustainably benefit from the economy.
“We’ve got a lot of communities that, from my perspective, have not received postal services based on past assimilation policies,” said Dale LeClair, Canada Post’s director of Indigenous and northern affairs.
Many communities across Canada’s North have limited mail services, high postage costs and insufficient wages for workers. From long waits in line for packages in Iqaluit to staffing shortages in Rankin Inlet, communities across the North are familiar with mail-related frustrations.
Canada Post currently offers some level of service in all 25 Nunavut hamlets.
It is currently in discussions with 30 communities across the country about increasing postal services. Communities will be prioritized based on their needs, said LeClair.
“I would encourage all communities to reach out,” he said. “We need to identify those critical areas.”
The strategy calls for new post offices for some communities and improvements, such as parcel lockers, for others that already have post offices.
LeClair said many post offices will “see a marked improvement in the level of compensation they receive” once a new compensation strategy launches in January 2021.
“They can more effectively operate their post offices with more stability, not worry about losing money and hire people at a living wage,” he said.
Canada Post has committed to hiring more Indigenous employees.
“If there’s a standalone post office run by Inuit people that would be better, but they currently can’t afford that,” said Chesterfield Inlet Mayor Barnie Aggark. Mail services in his community are currently contracted to the local Northern Store.
LeClair said Indigenous staff recruitment will be done “very differently” from Canada Post’s typical approach to reduce employment barriers and it could include new training and apprenticeship opportunities.
For example, people in communities with limited internet connectivity cannot easily access Canada Post’s online job application system.
Job requirements could also change based on a community’s needs.
“We put Grade 12 in our job postings and, all of a sudden, we remove a great portion of good workers, so we’ve removed that from our requirements,” said LeClair about Canada Post’s recruitment process in Iqaluit.
Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell said “they need to up their wages and benefit packages across the board.”
Canada Post also says it will help businesses in the North participate in the e-commerce economy by helping them ship out their products more affordably and reliably.
“We’ve got a commitment to focus on Indigenous businesses and really look at economic reconciliation and do our part,” said LeClair.
Alcohol and illicit drugs
The reconciliation strategy includes limiting the amount of alcohol and illicit drugs entering northern communities through Canada Post.
LeClair said this will include new package scanners, inspection teams, as well as an anonymous tip hotline launching in the new year.
This will be especially important to limiting illegal substances entering dry communities in Nunavut, said LeClair.